How to record a stop-motion video on your phone

Stop-motion is an animation technique whose history can be traced back to the 19th century and which has made its mark over the past few decades with franchises like Wallace and Gromit. If you’ve ever felt inspired to make your own movie in this style, all you need is your phone.

As with other tricks your phone can do, from map navigation to fitness tracking, you first need to find the right app. Then you can think about creating a cast of characters, laying the groundwork, and working out the story you’d like to tell.

Choose your app

The most basic form of stop-motion animation you can create with your phone is to take one photo after another and then stitch them together with a movie-making app like iMovie (free for iOS) or Splice (free for iOS and androidwith a $3 premium version that gives you more samples and other features).

Beyond that, if your plans aren’t too ambitious, many apps will bundle individual images and produce a GIF for you. You can try ImgPlay GIF Maker (free for iOS or $3 to remove watermark and ads) or GIF Maker (free for android or $3 for the premium version with all features available).

Apps like Stop Motion Maker let you see the previous frame while you work on the next. Stop Motion Creator

Opt for a more dedicated tool, and you can take advantage of features like image overlays that will give you an idea of ​​what the previous frame looked like while you set up a new one (technically known as an image skin). onion) . The best apps, including the one we’ve featured below, Stop Motion Studiogives you composition guides for positioning everything, as well as options for looping groups of images.

You can also check out Stop Motion Maker for android and iOS, which has an easy learning curve and extras like video filters. It’s free to use, but you’ll have to pay $10 a month to remove watermarks and ads and get all of its features. There’s also plenty to explore in I Can Animate ($3 for android and iOS), including easy frame handling and adjustments.

Using Stop Motion Studio

Because we can’t cover the ins and outs of all stop-motion editing apps, we picked one of the best of the bunch in Stop Motion Studio after spending time with several. Our tips will be specific to this application, but general enough that you can extrapolate them into whatever program you choose.

Stop Motion Studio is available for android and iOS, so you can use it on your phone, but it also has apps for Windows and macOS if you want to switch to a computer for editing. All your projects will sync seamlessly between your devices.

[Related: These free video editing tools are so simple, anyone can use them]

You use the software for free, but you can spend $5 to upgrade and access additional features. All the details are in the app, but extras include sound and video effects, the ability to replace backgrounds (a green screen effect), and support for 4K resolution output.

The Stop Motion Studio user interface on a smartphone.
Stop Motion Studio supports “onion skinning”, a term for keeping the previous frame partially visible. David Nield

To start with Stop Motion Studio, press the New movie button that appears on the opening screen (you can also check out a sample project called Big fish). Once you’ve created a new project, you’re ready to frame your first shot: put it in your phone’s camera view, then click the icon camera icon in the upper right corner.

This is where the main shot takes place: Use the red button (right) to capture an image. Also on the right are buttons for setting a timer (the clock icon), seeing what you’ve captured so far (the playback icon), and adjusting settings like zoom and white balance (the sliders icon).

On the left side of the screen, drag the slider up or down to gradually display the previous image. This can really help you position each image. It’s important to make sure your camera stays stable and fixed, otherwise the frame of the final video will move a lot.

You can exit the shooting interface at any time by pressing the back arrow (top right). This will take you back to the timeline view, where you can scroll through all the images you’ve captured so far. Tap any frame to display a variety of options, including those for copying and deleting individual frames.

The Stop Motion Studio editing interface on a smartphone.
You can duplicate, erase and edit frames in Stop Motion Studio with just a touch. David Nield

To the left of the timeline screen are buttons for recording your own audio (that’s the microphone button) and dropping additional items like title cards and video clips into the project (that’s the plus button). You won’t be able to add titles without purchasing the Pro version, but you can simply create your own and shoot them.

Press the cog icon (bottom left) to set project options, including its aspect ratio, frame rate, and output resolution. If you get stuck at any point, press the question mark icon on the right to display an overlay showing what all the buttons do. Just above is a handy undo button, to undo your most recent change. When you’re done, return to the home screen and long-press your project thumbnail to start the export process to complete your masterpiece.

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